Amid the Coronavirus crisis, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the "Mega Kumbh Mela" should only be symbolic now. He further stressed that it will give a boost to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
PM Modi tweeted in Hindi which read, "I appeal to everyone that two "shahi snan" have taken place and Kumbh (participation) should now be made symbolic. This will give a boost to the fight against this crisis."
Swami Avdheshanand replied to PM Modi's tweet and wrote, "We respect PM Modi's appeal. Saving lives is sacred. I request people not to gather for the ritual bath in large numbers and follow all Covid protocols."
In a tweet, Modi said that he spoke to one of the top seers - Swami Avdheshanand Giri of Juna Akhara - over the phone and made an appeal about the religious festival that attracts millions of devotees.
A seer has died from COVID-19 and several others have tested positive for coronavirus after attending the Kumbh Mela.
Kumbh Mela is a mass congregation of pilgrims who gather to take a holy dip in the sacred river Ganga and is considered to be the largest human congregation in the world. A ritual bath - at a predetermined time and place - is the major event of the festival. Kumbh Mela is celebrated four times every 12 years, the site of the observation rotating between four pilgrimage places on four sacred rivers-at Haridwar, Ujjain, Nashik and Prayagraj.
India has been witnessing an increase in the number of coronavirus cases. On Saturday morning, a total of 2,34,692 fresh coronavirus cases had been reported.
Deepak Rawat, District Magistrate, Haridwar, and Kumbh Mela officer said that "The Kumbh Mela used to begin in January, but looking at the Covid situation, the state government decided to start it in April this time. The centre's rules said because of the situation, the duration would be reduced. I have no information of it being curtailed."